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Australia v New Zealand: Boxing Day cricket Test, day one – live! – The Guardian, Theguardian.com

Australia v New Zealand: Boxing Day cricket Test, day one – live! – The Guardian, Theguardian.com


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If your appetite for Boxing Day cricket has yet to be sated, another Test match is about to get underway – South Africa v England at Centurion. Follow all of that right here:

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Jonathan

Howcroft

A superb day of Test cricket ends with Australia in the box seat, but their presence there owes as much to luck as it does skill after New Zealand probed without just reward in front of (*******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************, at the MCG.

After winning the toss and inviting Australia to bat first in overcast conditions, New Zealand began perfectly, Trent Boult castling Joe Burns (0) with the fourth delivery of the match. Thereafter David Warner (044) grew into his innings before a beauty from Neil Wagner was rewarded by an even better catch from Tim Southee at second slip.

The contest was evenly poised at lunch and continued to remain in the balance at tea, thanks largely to Colin de Grandhomme, who bowled superbly in the afternoon session for the reward of Marnus Labuschagne (63), bowled off his elbow attempting to leave a delivery outside his off stump. That was a rare moment of misfortune for Australia on a day when edge after edge missed the field or died short of a catcher, not to mention a couple of borderline LBW appeals going their way and a few run-out opportunities going begging.

But true to form the Kiwis never gave up and deserved more than just the wicket of Matthew Wade (38) in the final session. Unfortunately for them Steve Smith was one of the batsmen they were trying to dismiss, and after a lean start to the summer the run-machine ticked beyond 7, in his career to end the day unbeaten on 77 and looking back to the man who t ormented England over the winter.

Credit has to go to the MCG groundstaff for preparing a surface that allowed the ball to move in the air and off the seam throughout the day, keeping the batsmen honest, and ensuring long spells of compelling cricket. The pitch slowed considerably as the day wore on and it remains to be seen if it dies completely following its next meeting with the heavy roller.

To find out how it plays, and if Australia can turn their early ascendancy into a stranglehold, join Adam Collins and I back here tomorrow.

************************** (**********************************Jonathan HowcroftSteve SmithSteve SmithSteve Smith(********************************************** (******************************************** (********************************************* (********************************************** (******************************************** (**********************************************
Steve Smith held Australia’s first-innings together on day one of the Boxing Day Test against New Zealand. Photograph: Darrian Traynor / Getty Images

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Australia take the honors after an absorbing day of Test cricket.

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92 th over: Australia – 4 (Smith************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************ Head************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************The day ends exactly as it deserved to, with New Zealand engineering an edge that fails to go to hand and runs away for four. This time it was Southee to Head, but it has happened on numerous occasions today with most combinations of bowlers and batters.

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90 th over: Australia – 4 (Smith

************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************ Head ()After a couple of probing overs Boult begins his final shift of the day by allowing Head some width to free his arms and spank a four through point. There’s been a hollowness to proceedings since the second new ball, New Zealand tired and weatherbeaten after a day of near misses and lacking the raw pace to rattle Australia late on.

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Southee continues, now bowling to a field set for a cross-seam delivery that sticks in the pitch, more than a conventional new ball dismissal. Despite the plan, Southee does find the outside edge of Smith’s bat as Plan A might have designed, but the batsman’s hands were so soft the ball died well short of the cordon. Maiden.

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(************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** th over: Australia – (4) Smith (**********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************, Head 19)A very dishearteningly dull over from Southee to Smith features five nondescript dots followed by a contemptuous straight-drive for four. New Zealand are running out of puff towards the end of a day full of toil.

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, Head 17) Boult continues, but the lack of swing on offer means his line is now just leaking across the right-handed Smith outside off stump rather than tailing back into the batsman and inducing doubt. Boult realigns by bowling from around the wicket, but that simply allows Smith to milk a single off his pads. Head, now just about in, clips a couple of his pads when he is invited to bat.

Can’t imagine it will be 32 years until the next trans-Tasman Boxing Day Test.

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86 th over: Australia – 4 (Smith****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************, Head 17) Neither Boult nor Southee have bowled with menace since the change of balls. A TV graphic indicates the amount of swing with this new ball is 1.4 (of what unit I’m not sure) compared to 2.1 from earlier in the day. Even accounting for numberwang that indicates a less threatening delivery. Australia are now coasting to the close of play.

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(****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** rd over: Australia 4 – Smith

******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************, Head 15) Another over dominated by a crisply struck four from an Australian batsman playing in the V, this time Steve Smith drilling Trent Boult through long-off. The new ball still not doing what New Zealand want it to.

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85 nd over: Australia 4 – Smith**********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************, Head 15) Southee shares the new ball but in his quest for swing he over-pitches and Head presents the full face of the bat and collects four of the crispest runs. Southee adjust his length, and drags his line a touch wider, Head follows accordingly for a regulation play-and-miss from a right-arm over bowler to a left-hand batter.

The new ball has yet to misbehave greatly either in the air or off the pitch.

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83 th over: Australia (4) Smith (********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************, Head 6) Santner’s back for a token over before the new ball will be taken. How he has been used today by Williamson has been notable; the Kiwi skipper has shown little faith. Santner shows what he might have been missing by beating Smith with an unplayable delivery, the ball arcing in from around the wicket, pitching on leg stump, turning and bouncing prodigiously and beating the outside edge. Unfortunately he follows it up with a rank long-hop.

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(******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** th over: Australia (4) Smith 67, Head 2)

Travis Head doubles his score and does well enough riding an over of Neil Wagner deliveries arrowed at his ribcage.

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81 th over: Australia

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********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** (4) Smith 69, Head 0)New Zealand resume their bodyline-lite approach to Smith and Wagner earns a bruise, if not a wicket, with the method when he gets one to climb on the batsman and strike him towards the armpit during an awkward evasive manoeuvre.

Meanwhile over on Channel Seven, the host broadcaster has cut to an AFL footballer for the second time in the day. Ping Sam Perry.

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(************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************ th over: Australia – 4) Smith (********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************, Head 0)Wagner’s radar is off this over and he allows Head a couple of sighters by hurling down leg-side bumpers after Smith dinks a single to keep the scoreboard operators in the game.

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75 th over: Australia

************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************ (-4) Smith (**********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************, Head 0)That is the least de Grandhomme has deserved for a day-long demonstration of old-school swing bowling. And credit is due again to the MCG groundstaff for preparing a surface that has allowed the ball to move in the air and off the seam. Wade just beat his average, but he used up a lot of lives along the way.

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Another edge, and guess what, four more runs to Australia. Wade this time slashing hard outside off and inside-edging to fine-leg. But he’s gone the next ball! De Grandhomme bowling the same teasing line, inviting another drive, this time he finds the outside edge, and this time it carries behind the wicket where watling completes the simple dismissal. C-D-G, he’s dynamite!

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(**************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** rd over: Australia 216 – 3 (Smith************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************, Wade 38 Santner’s spell is again curtailed before the bowler might have expected it to be, meaning Wagner is back for his th over of the day. It begins with Smith driving neatly for three before Wade earns four with a guided thick edge that loops agonisingly over Taylor at first slip. Without sounding like a broken record, how have New Zealand only taken three wickets today?

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(**************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** nd over: Australia************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** – 3 (Smith**********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************, Wade************************************************** (Wade plays and misses to CdG outside off to open thend over of the day. I hope someone has kept a tally of all the times the bowlers have beaten the bat today for scant reward. Wade responds to CdG’s in-swing by advancing down the pitch and playing a defensive prod about two feet outside off stump. CdG then returns fire by

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(**************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** st over: Australia 202 – 3 (Smith) ************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************, Wade 31)Tighter from Santner, conceding just the one run. No alarms and no surprises for Australia though.

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Australia could remake this video with Steve Smith drowning in metaphorical runs.

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73 th over: Australia 201 – 3 (Smith************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************, Wade 33)Eeh, the pre-tea CdG turns up after a couple of nothing overs to to send down a pair of massive hooping in-swingers from around the wicket that wade struggles to deal with . But deal with them he does, and a single keeps the scoreboard ticking over.

(****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** th over: Australia – (3) Smith 65, Wade () Speaking of Santner, Williamson has belatedly turned to his left-arm spinner for just his fifth over of the day in what is his fourth spell. That’s partly a consequence of Australia targeting New Zealand’s premier slow bowler, and again both batsmen rotate the strike with ease while Wade uses his feet to drive powerfully through the off-side.

Matthew Wade

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71 th over: Australia (3) Smith 63, Wade 24) CdG has been neither as tight nor as threatening since tea, looking more like a dibbly dobbler fill-in than the medium-pace swing king of earlier in the day. Wade doesn’t mind, leaning back to carve three runs through the covers.

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(******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** th over: Australia (3) Smith 60, Wade 19) Boult almost cleaves Wade at his ankles but the batsman does well to dig out a searing yorker, despite ending up on the turf. He earns one for this troubles to add to a nicely clipped couple earlier on in the over.

Since Labuschagne’s dismissal Australia have lost their impetus. In other matches it might be possible to describe the game as drifting, but this is simply the latest engrossing phase of play in an even contest between bat and ball full of subtle changes of approach from both sides. Perhaps the most significant point of note (besides Australia’s good fortune) is New Zealand’s reluctance to bowl Santner. There is turn and bounce on offer but he has so far not been trusted to exploit it.

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69 th over: Australia – 3 (Smith

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The star of the middle session – Colin de Grandhomme – is back into the attack as New Zealand begin their planning for the second new ball. It’s a nondescript over that goes for three.

This is a lovely clip that highlights how much better the playing conditions have been today at the MCG compared to last year. It’s also a neat example of how welcome an addition Trent Copeland is to TV Commentary; unfussy, informative and yet to be reversed into by the banter bus.

“Isn’t that remarkable?” @ copes9

shows us the difference between last year MCG pitch and this one (# AUSvNZ pic.twitter.com/IPCGdgKIY3**************) (December) ******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************,

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(********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** th over: Australia 190 – 3 (Smith****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************, Wade 17 Bowling change from the Members’ End with Trent Boult replacing Neil Wagner. He beats Smith with a hooping in-swinger but alas for the Kiwis it’s a familiar pattern, instead of the clattering of stumps or a feather to the keeper it’s a thigh-pad deflection to fine-leg for four.

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(************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************ (th over: Australia 187 – 3 (Smith

******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************, Wade 17 (After 20 deliveries without a run off the bat Steve Smith controls a pull down to backward square-leg for a single. Southee then induces a flash and a miss from Wade outside his off stump, another let-off in a day of let-offs for Australia’s batsmen.

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